Throughout the course of history there have been many great men who are known by many in the books that people read today.
Julius Caesar is one man still regarded by historians as the greatest of all time. This paper will be focusing on the life of Julius Caesar and his key accomplishments. Julius Caesar was born on July 13 100 BC in Rome, Italy. He was the son of Aurelia and Caius Julius Caesar (Goldsworthy 30).
During the time Julius was born, elite families would engrave the message that they were the descendants of the elite and that they would one day be amongst the highest ranks in society.While growing up, Julius Caesar was often surrounded by people who had already established themselves in Roman society. Boys of prominent families, as early as the age of seven would often attend business meetings, greet senators and listen to debates with their father (38). Julius was also the nephew of a highly respected man by the name of Gaius Marius.
Marius Gaius gained political power in Rome by the way of being a prominent general in the Roman army and consul of Rome (99). This relationship would serve as a great benefit to Julius later in his life.With this form of upbringing, and his close connection to men with high regard, it can be understood why Julius grew up to be one of the greatest humans known even today. At sixteen, Julius took lead over his family after the death of his father (48).
That same year he also married his first wife, Cornelia. Cornelia was the daughter of Cinna, the most powerful consul in Rome from 87bc – 84bc (49). Two years later, when Julius was eighteen, Sulla, a dictator and then leader of a Roman army, ordered Julius to divorce his wife. When Caesar refused, he was forced to leave Rome and hide.
He would not return to Rome until the dictator died in 78BC (57). Caesar would get his first real experience in the political world at the age of nineteen while he served under the first governor of Asia, Marcus Minucius Thermus (Lendering 3). Ironically, his family name was already respected in Asia because his father was the governor of the same territory a decade earlier. Caesar admired Thermus; he paid close attention to how Thermus led his subordinates.
Through observation Caesar gained integral leadership skills (Goldsworthy 65).While in Asia, he would earn the Corona Civica, a crown he was awarded as result of the bravery he exhibited during warfare when the city of Mytilene was taken over by the army he led (Lendering 3). In 78 BC, Julius Caesar was captured by pirates while traveling to Rhodes to study under Apollonius (Plutarch 1 ). Even though he had been captured by pirates, he was still treated with respect and even wrote poems for the pirates.
Caesar was held at ransom for thirty-eight days until 50 talents could be raised for his release (Goldsworthy 75).When finally released, Caesar immediately attacked the pirates; after getting his revenge, he eventually reached Rhodes to study with Apollonius Mollo. In 75 BC Caesar went back to Rome where he would be an advocate in the Roman courts. This would be the official start to Julius Caesar’s political career.
Julius Caesar put his authority to use immediately by prosecuting Cnaeus Cornelius Dolabella for extortion. During Dolabella’s term as consul, it is believed that he enriched himself by abusing his powers, and using his position to get whatever he wanted.The severity of Dolabella’s corruption was disconcerting because he was presumed a strong advocate of Sulla when he was ruling Rome (Goldsworthy 71). In 72BC, Caesar was elected one of only twenty-four military tribunes in Rome.
His first task of being a military tribune was to join forces with Crassus to defeat Spartacus, a former slave who rebelled against the Roman Government and had won a handful of battles against the Roman army (Goldsworthy 79). Together, Crassus and Caesar, successfully defeated Spartacus in 71 BC (80).Even though Caesar’s political and military careers were going in the right direction, he would suffer a devastating setback in 69 BC when his wife and aunt died (98). Caesar loved both his wife, Cornelia, and his aunt, Julia deeply.
After each of their public funerals, Caesar did not have long to dwell on the loss of his loved-ones. That very year, he went to Spain where he was elected to quaestor in Baetica, to begin managing financial funds and serve as a deputy to the Governor Antistus Vetus (Lendering 3). After spending a short time in Spain, Caesar returned to Rome at the age of thirty-three.Caesar believed that re-marring would help boost his political career, so a short time later he met and married Pompeia in 67 BC.
Pompeia was the grandchild of Quintus Pompeius who served on the consular colleague in 88 BC ( Goldsworthy 101). Caesar’s marriage to Pompeia did not endure, and in 62 BC the two divorced Pompeia (Goldsworthy 174). It is not clear if Caesar’s marriage to Pompeia had a direct impact on is political career, however he was he was elected aedile (Lendering 3) the same year they married.As an aedile in Rome, Caesar had numerous responsibilities which included: supervising the maintenance of Rome’s temples, roads, ensuring entertainment and various activities were scheduled and successfully took place during festivities (Goldsworthy 106).
Julius Caesar, in 63 BC, was elected Pontifex Maximus. This title meant that he held the most power at the college of Potifices (126). In 62 BC Caesar was promoted to another high powered position as Praetor. As Praetor, he governed provinces in Rome.
Having great success in each political positions he was elected to in Rome, Caesar, confident, and determine, took a major leap and ran for consul in Rome in 60 BC; Caesar was forty when he made this decision (142). On January 1st 59 BC, Julius Caesar was elected consul not only for Rome but also Illyricum and Cisalpine Gaul. This gives him more authority in the military aspect of his consulship (Goldsworthy 164). When Caesar became consul, he immediately took many initiatives to pass new bills.
One bill stated that unused land would be distributed to Pompey’s veteran soldiers and select members of the poor (167). The bill that was rejected by his co-consul Bibulus, but later gained the support of others and was eventfully passed. Bubulus withdrew from his consulship and Julius Caesar first year of consulship would be known as Julius and Caesar (170). During his first year of consulship in 59 BC he married his second wife, Calpurnia.
This same year, his daughter Julia also got married to Pompey a ey political figure who campaigned with him and helped him become consul (174). Pompey was a military and a political leader who had a great influence on the campaign trail (164). The marriage between his daughter and Pompey was considered a strategic political move to help build an even stronger bond between Caesar and Pompey (Goldsworthy 174). From that point forward the bond that developed between Caesar and his daughter’s husband had an impact on the rest of Caesar’s life.
Caesar was also mainly involved in warfare from that point forward to (184).In 58 BC he defends a territory in Gaul. Julius Caesar defended this territory in Gaul because it was a territory traveled by the Helvetians (205). The Helvetians were a tribe in modern day Switzerland, wanting to pass through land that was controlled by Caesar.
This action was unacceptable by the Roman government because the Helvetians, by going through this land were in fact, trespassing on Roman land. Caesar took this opportunity to prove to the senate that he was capable of being a great military leader (Lendering 7).Julius Caesar would eventually stop the Helvetians from passing through his province by instructing his military to destroy a bridge in Geneva, a key bridge that would have allowed them to pass into Rome easily from Geneva. This gave Caesar the time he needed to recruit more legions for his military.
When the time came for the Helvetians to pass through Julius Caesar province, they were defeated and forced to find an alternate route to their destination (Lendering 7). This battle was the beginning of what was later known as the Gallic Wars.The second phase of the Gallic war began in late August 58 BC when Helvetians wanted to find an alternative route to there destination and to also live on the border of Santones. Caesar did not want this to happen because of the proximity of Santones to Tolstaetes, one of his provinces.
Caesar felt that if this took place that it would put close by Roman citizens in danger. Another factor that played a huge part in why he did not want the Helvetians in Santones, was because Caesar feared that they may conquer the provinces in the Rome that he himself had not had an opportunity o conquer. Julius Caesar did not hesitate engaging in a battle against them. His army of more than 30,000 men was no match for the Helvetians (Lendering 7).
Julius Caesar continued in the path of war in 57 BC when he defeated Nervii, a Belgic tribe in Gaul. This battle later was known as the Battle of Sambre; the battle sparked by Beligic people who rebelled against the Romans. The Nervii people were not alone when they went into battle with Caesar and his army. Nervii also had the aid of other Belgic tribes: Atrebates and Viromandui.
Together, they formed the Allies of Nevrii a partnership which was desperately needed if they had any chance of winning a battle against the Romans. Forming the Allies of Nevrii proved to be of little help as they were no match for Julius Caesar military leadership and the accompanied well trained army which followed Caesar into war (Goldsworthy 244). When this battle was completed, the Nervii tribe and its allies were only left with five hundred surviving warriors out of sixty thousand (250). Julius Caesar set his next task defeating the Germans.
In 57 BC the Germans tried to cross the Rhine, one of the longest rivers in Europe, into Gaul. Two German tribes, The Usipetes and The Tencteri wanted to migrate across the Rhine into to Gaul to avoid Suebi, a tribe at variance with the Germans known (Goldsworthy 270). Gaul was not officially Caesar’s territory; nonetheless, over three years, he had spread Roman power throughout this region with battles he had won. And, it was known by all that Rome had dominated this area (271).
To appease Caesar, German representatives explained that they simply wanted to keep the land in Gaul that they were able to control.The Germans also warned that they would take the necessary force if Caesar refused to accept their offer. Caesar took heed to the Germans plight and negotiated a possible solution to their problem (272). The Germans took advantage of Caesars willingness to negotiate and unbeknown to Caesar, they attacked The Gallic Allies.
The Germans planned to go against Julius Caesar all along, they planed to hold off Caesar’s attacks against them enabling them to secure a stronger infantry. The Germans managed to kill seventy-four of Caesar’s Gallic Allies in the attack (Goldsworthy 274).After this Julius Caesar showed no mercy on the Germans and went forward with a full force attack. The Roman army did not receive any major fatalities in their massive victory over the one-sided victory over the Germans.
There is no record of how many Germans were killed, but the remaining survivors elected to stay in a Roman camp rather than possibly pay the Gaul’s for the land they intruded upon (275). Although an easy victory for Julius Caesar and the Romans, it showed the rest of the region that they still dominated Gaul.Julius Caesar was not the only area that Caesar wanted to dominate, two years down the line, in 55BC; he would start the first of two invasions in Britain (Goldsworthy 278). Julius Caesar invaded Britain because of the role they played helping the Gaul’s fight.
Rome’s first Britain invasion was not successful, but the second attempt in 54 BC had the outcome Caesar expected (289). Julius Caesar second invasion was more strategically planned than the first attack. This attack, Caesar took approximately 18,000 men with him by ship. He even gained help with supplies and hostages from the Trinovantes Tribe.
The Trinovantes helped Caesar because the leader of the Britain Army Cassivellaunus was pushing them to exile. When this battle officially started, Caesar’s men was blindsided and killed by men on chariots. Caesars army, better prepared and aware was able to defeat this form of attack. At the same time this fighting was going on, Cassivellaunus told his army to attack men that were guarding the ships that brought Caesar to Britain.
These attacks failed and his army was force to retreat. Cassivellaunus could not take any more fighting, and so he was forced to make peace between Britain and Rome.He also released hostages that his army captured, gave him slaves and vowed to never attack the Trinovante tribe again (290). Caesar left Britain in September of 57BC, his last time in Britain.
Both ventures to Britain nearly resulted in disasters. One positive outcome that did come from this battle of two great nations is the increase of imported and exported products traded between Rome and Brittan (291). While Caesar was at war with Britain his daughter Julia died who was only in her mid twenties. Julia died giving birth; the infant would also die a couple of days later.
That same year, Caesar suffered another loss, his mother, who was in her sixties died (293). The death of his daughter weakened the friendship Caesar had with Pompey. But they were cordial and put kept business first, enabling them to continue working with each other (Lendering 14). Julius Caesar returned to Rome after being away a couple of years during the Gallic Wars.
The state of active battle left him little time to mourn the death of his love-ones. Caesar kept his focus on more than just dominating Gaul; his new mission was to conquering this power.This would not be an easy task for Julius Caesar because all of Gaul tribes came together under the leadership of Vercingetorix. Vercingetorix was a well known name in Gaul because his father ruled Gaul before he was killed (Goldsworthy 319).
The start of this conquest would be tough for Caesar because his allies were being defeated by Vercingetorix and some of them even joined force with him. Caesar in no way could let Vercingetorix beat him; if this happened, Rome would be seen as an easy target to others wanting to invade the country (321) Vercinggetorix could not out-smart Caesar when it came to battle.What led Caesar to victory was the fortifications that he had built to help defend his army. Caesar would eventually defeat Vercingetorix and his army and conquer all of Gaul.
This win also forced other tribes that had joined Vercingetorix to surrender. (Lendering 14). The Gallic wars came to an end. In all, it is estimated that more than one million Gaul’s were sold into slavery and another million were killed as a result of the Gallic Wars.
People, who lived in Gaul, now had to live under Roman government rules (Goldsworthy 354). This would be one of Caesar greatest victories in all his years at war.Julius Caesar, admired by all, and now rich from winning such great battles, returned to home as one of Rome’s wealthiest senators (359). Even though Caesar was coming off one of the biggest achievements in his life, Caesar would that learn that Pompey had become jealous of his success.
While Julius was in Gaul, Pompey had been elected to consul in Rome giving him and Caesar the same amount of power. Even though they were equal, he knew that he would still be inferior to Caesar because of his recent victory in the Gallic War (Lendering 18). This led Pompey to take side with the optimates, who were the leading men in the Senate.The senate was going against Julius Caesar because they felt he had too much power, especially with his recent conquest of Gaul.
Pompey was a great influence on why the senate was turning against Caesar. Eventually Julius Caesar would become a public enemy in Rome because he refused to give up his command (Goldsworthy 375). Since Caesar rebelled, this would lead to a civil war that would last nearly to the end of his life. Once alliances with Pompey, he would now face him in war in the battle of Pharsalus which he would defeat him in 49 BC.
Pompey would later be murdered by Egyptians when he was trying to leave Alexandria (431).With Pompey know out of the picture, Caesar would return to Rome in July 46 BC and was given the dictatorship in Rome for 10 years mainly because he had recently defeated King Juba in Africa. Julius Caesar would go to battle one more time in his life which he was also victorious at Munda in Spain in 45 BC. This would end the civil war and allowed Rome to enjoy peace in their society for once in more than a decade (489).
Caesar would return to Rome to be honor for his victorious once again. He would be named dictator for life this time in 44 BC at the age of fifty-six (490).This would be one of the last things that he would be honor with in his life because he was assassinated in the same year. He was killed by a group of Senators led by Marcus Cassius and Decimus because they wanted Rome to be run by them and not a group of elected consuls (504).
Caesar would leave behind a life in which he lived to accomplish things not only in Rome but also over seas. In all, through out the course of his life he would be elected military tribune, praetor, quaestorship, and consulship in Rome four times to name a few of the titles he achieved.Julius Caesar last great accomplishment would that he was granted dictator for life in Rome. Julius Caesar was a man who went for what he wanted and did not stop until he could be stopped in his conquest to be one of the greatest men to live in his time period.
This played a major part in why he was assassinated when he was because he was on his way to doing more great things in his life. Even though he was killed thousands of years ago, his legacy will continue to live on for thousands of years to come.